Last week we introduced you to Badia, an Iraqi who came to the United States with the help of the List Project. This week we will continue to showcase Badia and his story, highlighting some of the risks that he and other Iraqis experienced because of their work with the United States and Coalition Forces.
Because of this involvement, Iraqis who worked with the U.S. or Coalition Forces had to be overly careful when traveling to and from their work. At the height of the sectarian war, insurgents and militias had infiltrated the Iraqi army and police. This gave them the ability to monitor Iraqis whom they suspected of collaborating with the U.S. Once spotted, these Iraqis were hunted down, and many were kidnapped and murdered.
Badia also had his share of these experiences. He has said that while in Basra he was the top target of the Moqtada Al Sadr’s Mahdi Army, and was even pursued by Sunni extremists as well. In one instance, Badia was almost kidnapped, but managed to escape his would-be captor:
“One day I just left my house in Basra to return back to work…at this time I could leave the base everyday, go to see the relatives and my family and come back to complete my work…So I stopped a taxi, it was without markings (like many taxis in Basra). I told him to take me to the Iraqi base (the British base was in the same area).
Then he began asking me questions. He asked me if I was an interpreter. I said no. Then I felt that he had saw me before…he asked if I was going to the British base. I said no. He asked me if I worked for British Forces. I said no. Then I discovered that he began taking another way, not the way to the base. I told him that this was not the way. He said he knew another way…then he changed his answer saying that he wanted to do something quickly and then would complete the route from another way.
I refused that, and he began taking me away. So I took a chance then, when the vehicle came to a stop. I opened the door and ran. He turned to run after me but couldn’t. I ran all the way back to the base.”
From this point on, Badia chose to live on coalition military bases. He also told us that those who had attempted to kidnap him were still looking for him throughout Basra. He told his relatives to tell them that he had left for Britain. Badia spent his last four years in Iraq, from 2006-2010, confined to a base.
Badia’s story highlights the extreme measures that Iraqis have had to go through to remain safe while working for the U. S. and Coalition Forces. Because of these threats to their lives, many Iraqis like Badia, have had to come to the United States to escape persecution.
Stayed tuned for our next installment in this series where we will continue to provide you with the stories of the Iraqis from the List Project.